Phone: (606)549-4811 * Fax: (606) 549-4814 * E-mail: * 410 Sycamore Street, Williamsburg, KY 40769

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Choosing The Correct Car Seat: What Kind of Seat Should I Use?

Car crashes are the number one killer of children under twelve years old, but proper car seat usage drastically decreases the chances of a child being seriously injured or killed in an accident.  Selecting the proper car seat is just as important as using the seat properly. 

Using the wrong seat "properly" is like using a screwdriver to saw a board "properly".  What's the point of working so hard to do it correctly if you are using the wrong tool?  In light of that, here are some tips on selecting the correct seat based on your child's age and size:

REAR-FACING:  Children should be in a rear-facing car seat until they are AT LEAST 12 months old AND AT LEAST 20 pounds.  However, you don't necessarily need to switch to the next stage just because a child is 20 pounds and a year old.  Instead, leave him or her in a rear-facing seat until you absolutely need to move up a stage because the child exceeds the weight and height limits for the rear-facing seat.  The maximum allowable height and weight allowed by the manufacturer for any seat should be listed on a sticker that comes on the seat and in the owner's manual.
FORWARD-FACING:  Once a child is too big for a rear-facing seat, he or she should be placed in a forward-facing seat with a harness.  Just like with the rear-facing seat, the child should stay in the forward facing seat with a harness for as long as possible.  Check the height or weight limits listed on the sticker on the seat or the instruction manual to see how long you can wait before changing to a booster seat.  A child should usually be in a forward-facing seat with a harness until he or she is about four years old.

BOOSTER SEAT:  Once a child exceeds the height or weight limit listed on the sticker on the forward-facing seat, he or she is ready for a booster seat.  The child should be able to sit in the booster seat with the lap belt resting snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach.  The shoulder belt should also lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not touch the neck or face.  If the seat belt doesn't fit the child properly in a booster seat, you should recheck the label on the forward-facing seat with a harness because he or she should probably still small enough to be in that seat.

SEAT BELT:  Once a child can sit all the way back in the seat with his or her knees at the edge of the seat and his or her feet touching the floor, it is time to start using a seat belt.  Just like when using a booster seat the child should be able to sit in the car seat with the lap belt resting snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should also lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not touch the neck or face.  Even when using a seat belt, children under the age of twelve should sit in the backseat where they will usually be safer in the event of an accident.

Selecting the correct seat can be a challenge, not to mention using the seat properly.  For that reason Dr. Matt is a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician who works with NHTSA and SafeKids Worldwide to do free* car seat checks.  Call 549-4811 today to schedule your seat check appointment or visit to find a seat check station near you.


*Our Promise To You:  You do not have to be a patient to get this free seat check, but even if you are a patient or want to become a patient on the day of the seat check "you have the right to rescind, within seventy-two (72) hours, any obligation to pay for services rendered in addition to this free or discounted service."

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